Original URL: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/09/19/letters_1909/

Space, Segways and biostratification

And alternatives to Donkeys

By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in Bootnotes, 19th September 2006 14:53 GMT

Letters eDonkey got its, er, ass kicked in the New York courts last week. And the RIAA owns its front page. And any visitor's IP addresses, it reckons. So, what to do, for the determined downloader?

> For instance, offer PC lessons to an elderly neighbour, preferably very old and very deaf in return for some internet time.

Or use his wifi from the comfort of your own living room.


Hey, you forgot to mention eMule in your eDonkey article !

No sign of people stopping Bittorrent use either while PirateBay and it's like still exist.

Oddly enough if file sharing does go underground (techie only) then we will be back where we were in the 80s and early 90s. Guys on market stalls flogging cheap ripped goods, and kids actually socialising at school in order to 'swap' stuff.


"If you steal music or movies, you are breaking the law." Well, yes. But copyright infringement ISN'T stealing music. Weasel, thy name is RIAA. "Courts around the world -- including the United States Supreme Court -- have ruled that businesses and individuals can be prosecuted for illegal downloading." If it wasn't illegal, then the courts wouldn't give a monkey's. Another tautological statement. Now, can we get them for "own now on CD" and the MPAA for "Buy now on DVD" when they then turn round and say "this is licensed, not sold"? Maybe tell them: "Fraudulent misrepresentation is illegal. Courts around the world have ruled that businesses and associations can be prosecuted for defrauding customers".


Edonkey is dead, long live Emule. Er, the Edonkey network will only die when the free open source adaptation of its protocol, Emule, dies, in other words.

thanks joe

This is a mockery of the legal system - showing big businesses can bully smaller businesses into doing what they please.

I was a moderator on the eDonkey (or eD2k) forums, I donated my free time to aiding users with issues they had with their PC's and enforcing the strict rules of the forum - they were only three but they were followed to the letter.

The first and foremost of these rules is to not promote or condone copyright infringement in any form. If the website was allowed to stay up you'd be able to check this for yourself - but then there's always wayback machine.

eD2k was not designed for the infringements of copyrighted material but a platform for people to share their own made copy free material with one another - due to the discriminatory actions of law enforcers assuming guilt until proven innocence we had to follow the rules for the forum so religiously as to not to appear to condone the activity in the slightest, posts and topics made about anything even slightly copyright protected were locked, edited or deleted immediately - living in fear that this day would eventually come.

Yes it's true people have utilised this applications to share copyrighted materials for free but there's very little that could be done about that - are we now to ban kitchen knives as well? Some people say that phrase is an extremist example but MetaMachine (MM) have no control over the content of the network and the way the system works (and has to work that way) would never be able to implement content control - just like the manufacturers of knives can control whether someone uses it to dice chicken or their ex-husband.

MetaMachine were also a champion of the small business - many artists that weren't signed to major record labels had their work promoted via the network - non more so then those who made it onto the clients welcome page. This was not only for music but movies games and software - all able to reach their target demographic and make a small return for their considerable efforts.

This ruling is a re-actionary measure taken by someone who evidentially doesn't understand the subject matter and the small start-up businessman has taken the blow of their short-sighted decisions.

The American dream of starting up your own business and living through your pleasures is now only for those who have the money in the bank and can afford to step on the people they view as below them.

Closing down MM will not close down the eDonkey network and most certainly will not stop any of the copyright infringement - primarily because the network has been invaded by "clone" clients such as eMule (www.emule-project.net) and Shareaza - the former of which is an open source application that is created by a community of people all adding their own code from around the globe - a political and logistical nightmare to close down.

So those wanting to continue their nefarious deeds will be doing so without much set-back from the RIAA's latest "success" in the "War on Piracy" - all they managed to do is closedown a small tax paying company and destroy a close nit community of friends who wanted nothing more than to help people across the globe with their numerous PC problems.


Break out the birthday candles, the hard drive turned 50 this year.

"Besides some home appliances, there are few products on the market today that still employ much the same theory of operation, if not simply miniaturized versions of same implementation, as they did five decades ago."

I would like to submit the following items gleaned from the headlines that employ the same theory of operation as they did 50 years ago:

the four cycle internal combustion engine, the jet engine, the helium balloon the AK-47, accepted in 1947, the M1911-A1 - developed by John M Browning before 1905,

I guess you never used a pencil, a hammer, pliers, scissors, an automobile jack, the list goes on and on.

I would wager that the common Number 2 lead pencil has made more of an impact on the whole of humanity than the hard Drive

You may not recognise a world before digital electronics, but a trip to a real museum can be an educational experience


Your article prompted me to switch on the calculator that I've had for almost 30 years, still working with the original battery, and do a calculation.

If the bandwidth of the optic nerves are around 10 megabits per second, and the rest of the nervous system something similar, then a human lifetime could be recorded in around 10^17 bits.

A cheap hard disk today can hold, say, 10^10 bits and that's increasing by ten every five years.

So well before your son will be 59, he can record his entire life, no doubt using some sub-atomic quark thingy entirely unrelated to a hard-disk. But then who could have predicted that the size of the space shuttle's rocket boosters would be limited by the size of roman horses.


Arms manufacturers are working to make the world a better place. Not by gunning down all the unsavoury people, but by making lead-free bullets:

Ahh lovely, oh how I chortled so.. Even though it is mid-September I did consciously check to see whether twas April first.

What a joy to get a story like this - no need for clever editing, making witty comments and so on, its just perfect as it is...

'I know what would make the world a better place... quieter bombs! Now if only we could get those darn people to stop screaming when we blow them up, i could finally get a good night's rest"


Of course the anti-arms lobby would deride anything they conceivably can. To me that just proves they are as stuck in their own rhetoric as the treehuggers.

You see, this really is the way of the future. We actually have the means as in the technology and the hardware to wage global war. We don't need nuclear bombs to render entire earth uninhabitable, if we try hard enough. But we can spend the earth only once.

So the only way forward, as disarmament is not an option in the current political climate --nevermind we did that to ourselves--, is to make the weaponry more accurate. This includes reducing the environmental impact. This also means it can be used to good effect against dissenters of the upcoming big brother nanny state, of course. Derision seems to me to be entirely the wrong answer.


Quote: The anti-arms lobby has reacted with predictable derision. Symon Hill of Campaign Against Arms Trade slammed the propsals as "ridiculous", adding: "BAE is determined to try to make itself look ethical, but they make weapons to kill people and it's utterly ridiculous to suggest they are environmentally friendly."

Unfortunately he's a moron, and these lead-free bullets are safer for the environment and people in general. The issue is not what they do to a person who gets shot with them.

Obviously, that's detrimental to health no matter what they're made of, unless it's cotton balls.

The issue is what lead bullets do to people who handle them. Lead has a well documented toxicity. Many more people handle bullets than get shot by them. Therefore, people who don't get shot by bullets, which outnumber the people who do, are at risk for lead poisoning by handling lead bullets.

I'm not a gun nut, but it seems to be a pretty clear benefit to me.


Students managed to get into space by balloon, and for less than the cost of a student loan. You (and we) were very impressed.

I read The Register every day (that I'm at work) and sometimes on my day off. This the coolest story you've run this year.

A bunch of Uni students have put their beer down long enough to send a payload to 32km*, take pictures and safely recover it - even via a built in mobile phone. It's brilliant, first class stuff. Well done to them for doing it, and kudos to you guys for covering it.


*I refuse to use "feet" or other body parts for measurement. This is the 21st century, get used to metric! If the septics don't like it, look at your own history, you've been metric since 1893.

More on how much you would like us to stop quoting Jack Thompson in articles about video games causing violence in the real world:

Now that we know about Jack Thompson, I hope you do a Captain Cyborg-style blackout on your site and refrain from giving him any more coverage.

I had a look at a blog post (http://ace.mu.nu/archives/196688.php) which liberally quoted from Gill's Vampire Freaks page and it is clear that it was not Goth culture, video games or websites that were responsible. The guy was simply sick and I think you should have pointed that out. I'm sure Super Columbine Massacre did not make him that way, but it (and all the stuff on his page) is a pretty clear symptom of a deeper ill.


John Ferguson  

You thought Microsoft's £1.5m discount on offer to HMGov is worth less than the paper the agreement was printed on:

Shame on you publishing such an obvious puff piece from yet another useless government agency. Did nobody do the maths, have you completely lost the plot? You are promoting the fact that this dysfunctional group of bureaucrats thinks it is a result to get a 66.6p discount per user from Microsoft.

Some VP for Public Sector Sales in the UK just pissed his pants laughing and is going to get a nice fat pack of options from Santa Bill at Christmas. Get a grip and if you have to publish this tat, make sure you include the gags.


That is a saving of less than £1 per seat. Unless a complete seat of MS software costs a tenner, that's a fraction of a % of the costs. Be still my beating heart.


Virgin planes ban passengers from using their Apple and Dell notebooks over fears of exploding batteries. Plugged in is fine, however.

Why in the world would the airlines think that having the battery in luggage (where no one can access the burning battery) is safer than having it in the cabin where one could use a fire estinguisher? Do they think that having the battery ourside the laptop makes it safe? Don't they realize that if the battery breaks down due to defects in the material inside being poor quality the battery doesn't have to be in use to be dangerous?

Reference the laptop blowing up on the floor of a pickup truck. Do you think it was being used?

Wish we could see some relevant test data to show if it is more (or less) dangerous during operation.

Tom Stephenson

Are these people idiots? The problem was a fault in the production of the battery, which is just as likely to explode whether it's in the laptop whilst on, in the laptop whilst off, in the pocket of the seat in front of you or locked securely in the hold.

Arguably, leaving it in the laptop is the most sensible plan. If it's on the person's lap, they'll soon know about it. If it's in the laptop bag, then at least the encasing might prevent oxygen getting to the fire, and it can be dealt with by on-board fire extinguishers.

Putting it in the seat in front is likely to be the worst place, since the seats are probably the most flammable things on a plane; and checking the battery into the hold scares me -- if it exploded there, there would be no way for anyone to put it out (or even notice) until it was too late ...


The dwarf-planet formerly known as Xena has been given a new name. Yes, it is now called Eris. But the planet's status still troubles you:   Dear IAU

It must be called to your attention that Pluto, Eris, and Ceres are offended by being called "dwarf planets."  They find the term "dwarf' demeaning, and they would much prefer to be called "little planets."


This one came with the subject line "Eris and Skiing: a Smartarse's View"

Hi Chris,

of course, you can't ski on Eris;  it's far too cold.  The snow has to be able to melt under the pressure of the skis in order that they can slide on a cushion of water.  Some enterprising skiers have even incorporated heating elements into skis in order that they can go faster, or ski when it's too cold.

Personally, I believe skiing is a good thing only if you like hospitals.


Er, so, equipped with these melty skis, one can indeed ski on Eris?

We tried to understand a press release, but it was full of big, scary words. Like "biostratigraphy". Fortunately, we have you, our beloved readers, to explain things to us:

This shouldn't be much of a headache for anyone with a backing in geosciences/climate sciences, and refers to the widespread use of fossil foraminfera (a kind of planktonic animal) as indicators of paleoclimate and oceanic conditions, as well as being usable as zone fossils to determine the precise or relative age of a sediment (biostratigraphy).

Shudder instead for the mathematicians who have to endure such thought provoking papers as "Summing and nuclear norms in Barnach's space theory" (sp.)

Keep up the good work,


Thanks for bringing this up - as you are aware, the theory that the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous (including the dinosaurs) was caused by an asteroid impact has been under attack recently, but this is an interesting new piece of evidence in favour of the theory.

Shame you don't have a link, but the bit you quoted covered it. What part did you have trouble with? I confess I can't exactly remember what foramnifera are - some category of miscroscopic creepy-crawly, as far as I recall.


It all seems reasonably simple to me (and I'm not even a palaeontologist): there was some debate as to whether the Chicxulub crater (in the Yucatan) was really the impact site for the meteorite that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, and most of the species on the planet (known as the KT-boundary, or apparently also the KPg-boundary).

By looking at the animal life present in the crater, rather than just the rocks (well, argon-dating, which is basically like carbon-dating, but more useful for long periods of time) the time of impact that caused the crater was found to be the same as the KT mass extinctions.

Some scientists had proposed that there were really three impacts around 65 million years ago: the Chicxulub impact, 300 thousand years before the 'big one'; the big one itself, whose crater lies somewhere undiscovered; and a third, smaller one, about 100 thousand years afterward.

To me, this latter theory sounds a bit too elaborate; after all, isn't the (gigantic) crater in Mexico big enough for you...?

Hope this clears up what *really* happened to the dinosaurs,

David Craven

Re the planktic foraminiferal biostratigraphy data, I hear this theory can be proven with the use of a Retro Encabulator; specifically the Differential Girdle Spring. ;-)

David Needham

Finally, all you Segwayers out there need to report back to HQ for an upgrade. Filed under "You couldn't make it up:

Is a game of Segway chicken actually possible? I can't decide whether the smugnetic field that I imagine surrounds all Segways is repulsive making a collision impossible, or attractive leading to an inevitable crunching of heads. I think a practical experiment should be conducted. Naturally, I'd love to have a go myself.


'off road' version? ROFIHL!

I assume by 'off-road' they mean you can now go off the road and onto the pavement without getting off and picking the sodding thing up (like the original was supposed to assuming that all pavements globally had a common kerb height about 1" below the current average).

Visions of armies of 'off road' Segway users suing 'cos they've been immobilised by overnight rain leap unbidden to mind. Weather forecasts will have to end "....and for 'off-road' Segway users, the going is described as good to firm".

Sorry to any Segway users out there (yes, you) but you brought it on yourself. Oh, and if you wear a helmet like the bloke in the HSBC advert, you're very, very sad.... As for "Segway Chicken". Given the recent successes of tech companies branching out into other areas (I mention no names, but employment and fruit are clues here), if I were Colonel Sanders, I'd be worried.


Which brings this letters round up to a close. We're off to biostratify samples of lager in the nearby pub. Back on Friday. ®